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Is This the End of Big Pharma?

Susmita Chatterjee
March 9, 2011

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) has a huge task cut out for it. The company's blockbuster cholesterol treatment Lipitor, which loses patent protection in November, is the highest-selling drug in the world, and now the company has the tough mission of figuring out how to replicate its success.

Lipitor, launched in 1997, has fetched $10 billion in annual revenues to the company since then. The equation, however, would soon change when generic-drug makers begin selling cheaper versions. Plus, Pfizer's patent for Xalatan glaucoma drug also expires in 2011. So what's a huge pharma company to do?

The other victims
Fortunately, Pfizer is not alone in battling patent troubles. Other big pharmaceutical firms are also facing a similar challenge.

Merck's (NYSE: MRK  ) asthma drug Singulair goes off-patent in 2012 while Novartis' (NYSE: NVS  ) patents on its cancer drug Zometa and hypertension treatment Diovan are set for expiration in 2012. Eli Lilly's (NYSE: LLY  ) schizophrenia drug